I am writing you today because I can’t take it anymore.
Since before I was old enough to vote, I’ve supported Democrats.
I grew up in the 80’s. I listened to my parent’s struggle to stay afloat.
My parents were small business owners. They owned three different businesses as I was growing up. They had to sell off some property and lost one property to the bank in the late 80’s. My father ended up having to travel to another state for work at the depth of their struggles. We stayed behind with my mother and only saw him during visits.
My parents voted for Ronald Reagan, but they quickly regretted their vote and became loyal Democrats.
My father used to tell me the Democrats were the party that went to bat for the working people.
That was how he came to view the party.
I remember in high school watching election results and cheering when Bill Clinton beat George Bush. The future of my generation looked bright at the time. I planned to go to the college and I worked full-time while completing high school and taking some college courses.
My parents taught me a strong work-ethic and I knew I had to work hard to become something more. My parents always told me how important my education was to be able to make it in this country.
I didn’t complete college right away but instead went into the job market.
It was the late 90’s and I had a great job in the tech industry. Things were looking great for my generation. I had invested some money into Apple Computers because shares were at $12 and I knew it was a great opportunity. My generation spent lots of money and dived into all the high-tech gadgets and created the online world. We enjoyed life while we worked hard. I later used the money I made on that stock purchase towards a house.
At 25, I decided to complete my college education and become a teacher. I wanted to contribute more to society. While I was making great money and enjoyed my job, I felt there was something more fulfilling I needed to do.
I finished my degree, and at the same time I became a mother. It was difficult and I had to take out student loans to be able to afford college and childcare. I worked part-time teaching preschool while I completed college and it allowed me to spend time with my kids while at work. I did homework during nap-time and it worked out great. Plus I was able to get a discount on childcare because childcare is more expensive than private school tuition.
I graduated right after the market crash. I was $25,000 in debt with student loans, but I wasn’t worried. Barack Obama had just been elected President, and the Democrats were going to be in control of Congress.
I accepted a position at the junior high school. At this time, things were getting tense for teachers and schools across the country were laying teachers off. All of my colleagues were getting stressed but trying to work hard. Barack Obama was President and the Democrats were in control. It was exciting, but it didn’t prevent the layoffs.
Within months pink slips were coming in and most of us didn’t know if we’d have a job for the next school year. I was pink slipped. I was pregnant at the time with my 3rd child. I tried to find another teaching position but there were a lot of teachers with more experience looking as well.
I didn’t have any luck, so I decided to take some time off and focus on my kids. I took a deferment on my student loans.
It was tough living on one income and we cut back expenses where we could. We got rid of our cable TV and haven’t looked back. We cut down to one car, and luckily it was paid off. I helped out with friends' kids to make a little money. I went on medicaid but got kicked off once the baby was born. My husband made too much for us to qualify otherwise. We went without health insurance because we couldn’t afford it. My husband worked for a small business that didn’t offer insurance. My kids didn’t get medical check-ups, but we kept their vaccinations up-to-date by visiting the local health department. My youngest son broke his arm during this time, and we had to use a credit card to pay the medical expenses.
When the fight for healthcare was under way, I had so much hope. I contacted my representatives, and I fought for single-payer. This is the first time I realized the Democratic Party wasn’t really fighting for the people as I’d always believed. They caved very easily, but we did at least get the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t help my family get insurance at the time and we remained without health insurance. The very next election I still canvassed and pushed for the Democratic Party. I thought of the ACA as a first step towards something better, and I had hope that the Democratic Party would keep fighting too.
After being home for 3 years, I returned to the job market. My student loans couldn’t be deferred any longer and there still weren’t a lot of teaching jobs open. I took a job at a call center. I couldn’t afford the health insurance so my family remained without it. I was working full time only to pay my student loans, pay for a second car to get to work, and for childcare so I could work.
This was a huge struggle, but I still had hope things would improve. After 8 months, I got a better job with an online company and things were looking up again. My family finally had health insurance and I was able to take my kids for check-ups again. I was able to enroll in a 401k too, so finally I could think about setting aside money towards retirement one day. I worked there for almost 3 years before the company closed down. I took another call center job right away and was able to keep health insurance even though it was taking 1/3 of my pay. Luckily, all of my kids were in school and the after-school care offered by the school district charged an hourly rate instead of a set rate. I’ve switched jobs again since then.
The sad part about all of this is I’d made more money hourly in the 90’s than I do now…
I kept an eye on politics, and I was disappointed in the Democrats education policy. It seemed they believed the same things the Republicans did when they set up No Child Left Behind. I lost hope in ever getting back into teaching. And continue to watch education funding decline. I appreciate the local Democrats efforts for education, but on a national level the party is missing...
When I heard that Senator Bernie Sanders was running in the primary I was so excited. I knew Bernie had been fighting for the people. I often watched YouTube videos of his speeches in both the house and senate. I signed up to volunteer for his campaign right away. I started donating every two weeks to his campaign. I signed up to call volunteers and help organize political events. Then I read on his website about becoming a precinct committee person.
Even though I’d canvassed for the Democratic Party previously, I had no idea how this all worked. I learned and become an appointed and then an elected precinct committee person thanks to Bernie’s website.
Things looked bright again and I felt like we could finally change the course of this country.
I attended local Democratic meetings. I helped candidates collect signatures to get on the ballot.
Unfortunately I felt some backlash and resentment from some democrats that didn’t support Bernie Sanders and who told me I wasn’t a real Democrat even though I’d always voted and supported Democrats.
This made me wonder if I really wanted to be a part of the party anymore, but I remained and I kept working. Through the primary, I started to see another side of the party. It seemed like, the party had already decided the outcome and they were telling us to get in line and support their decision. This was an awakening that caused me to go through months of a grieving process.
I still hoped the party would see the energy and the way things could be.
I imagined the party winning and moving towards polices that supported the working-class.
They didn’t do this and instead, I heard Hillary Clinton say single-payer was never going to happen. I heard them cling to the Affordable Care Act that I saw only as a starting place. My oldest brother was diagnosed with throat cancer. He lost his health insurance because he couldn’t work. He had to beg for the little healthcare he received, and he passed away. I knew the ACA wasn’t good enough.
It was very discouraging that Democrats were no longer fighting for Healthcare for all, but I increased my efforts.
I made more calls for Bernie,
I canvassed every weekend.
I registered voters and made sure they were registered as Democrats.
I organized and attended events.
I talked to everyone I knew about the election.
I put everything I had into this fight because I wanted a better future for all of us.
I sacrificed time with my family to give it to the party.
I learned more about local candidates and fought for them as well.
I traveled 200 miles to caucus for Bernie at the state convention.
None of this seemed to matter to the party.
No matter how much energy, enthusiasm, and even money we had, they brushed us off.
We saw sources we had always thought of as progressive fighting against us.
We saw the party taking away Bernie’s access to his own campaign information (against their own rules) due to a member of his staff accessing something to show there was an issue.
Later we learned this was someone recommended to the campaign by the party itself.
We saw a mess in the primary elections in state after state.
We saw Bill Clinton at polling places.
We saw the mess with Democratic voters having their registration changed, so they couldn’t vote. I was collecting signatures for another candidate at a polling place and saw about 1 in 10 voters exiting unable to cast a ballot in my state.
We saw 4-hour lines to vote.
We saw the party fighting against us and it felt like they were giving us the finger.
We saw the news announce the winners while people were waiting in line to vote, and then declare Clinton the winner the night before the biggest primary vote in California.
We kept fighting and continue to fight.
We watched the Nevada state Caucus online and then had the party come out and lie about us.
We saw the younger generation being smeared.
We saw you reject progressive policies and only throw us a few crumbs when selecting your agenda.
Then the party remained quiet on the #NoDAPL, and then WikiLeaks.
Shame on you for selecting yet again your choice for DNC Chair and not listening.
This letter is to let you know, I’ve had enough. I won’t be working for you any longer.
I will be working for something more because we deserve better!
You are NOT the party of the people as my father believed! You are the party of yourselves!
You can’t tell me I have to stick with you or accept Republicans because you aren’t any better!
I choose to fight for the people and leave you behind!
A former life-long Democrat, Precinct Committee Person, proud Bernie Bro and Women for Justice volunteer
The opinions expressed are personal and not an official statement from the Women for Justice Team. Women for Justice does not endorse political parties.
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